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Insignia NS-PDVD8 review: Insignia NS-PDVD8

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We were really impressed by the three headphone jacks.

There's no memory card slot or a USB port, but considering that the player doesn't offer digital-file compatibility--there's no support for MP3 music, JPEG image files, or DivX videos--their absence is no great loss. One connection we had a little trouble figuring out was the 5V DC-out; we assumed at first that it was for charging something like a PSP or cell phone, which would have been kind of cool. But the manual just says, "Plug a power-connecting cable into this jack and into the DC-in on the optional TV tuner to watch playback on a TV." We're still not sure what that means.

As far as the picture goes, it's on par with what we've come to expect from players that cost about $140 or less--which is to say, not great. The screen is quite watchable for almost everybody, but discriminating viewers won't necessarily be satisfied. While the color is accurate enough, the picture's a little soft. The NS-PDDVD8 offers some picture control options, but like other models in this price range, shadow detail isn't a strong suit, so you might want to crank the brightness up on darker movies. "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," for example, has a lot of night racing scenes, and we had to take the brightness up from 8--the middle setting--to 11. Likewise, 4x3 (standard) program material can be stretched to fill the 16x9 wide screen, but there's no zoom option available.

Normally we don't say a whole lot about a portable DVD player's sound quality, but it is worth mentioning that the NS-PDDVD8 plays plenty loud at its higher volume settings. The sound is mediocre through the player's small, tinny speakers, but it's loud. Naturally, if you connect a pair of decent headphones, sound quality will improve dramatically. If you have the correct cable, you can use the coaxial output to connect the player to an AV receiver and get surround sound.

As for battery life, Insignia rates the NS-PDDVD8's battery life at 4 hours (with the display turned on) and our tests came in slightly better than that mark, at close to 5.5 hours. We do have one gripe, though: we would have appreciated some sort of battery life indicator, but didn't notice one.

All in all, the Insignia NS-PDDVD8 isn't a bad portable DVD player. It's relatively well designed and its picture quality measures up to most of the other players in its price range and class. The lack of digital media support and a case for headrest mounting hurts its value, but if that stuff doesn't bother you and you like the idea of the three headphone jacks and an 8.5-inch screen, there's enough positives here to give this one a moment of consideration. However, it would be nice if Best Buy could shave another $50 off the list price. That would make the NS-PDDVD8 easier to recommend.

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